An iconic US bomber plane is set to grace this year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow in a first for New Zealand.
Organisers have confirmed a United States Air Force B-52 Strotofortress bomber will feature in the April event.
The American B-52 Stratofortress bomber is scheduled to feature in Warbirds Over Wanaka 2020.
Warbirds Over Wanaka general manager Ed Taylor said it was a coup for the airshow.
“This is absolutely brilliant news for us and will quite possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our visitors to see one of these magnificent aircraft display here in our own backyard,” Taylor said.
The United States Air Force (USAF) earlier announced it would also be bringing a C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft to the show.
The Royal Australian Air Force would be bringing its F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets to Wanaka 2020 with a four-ship display, while the Royal New Zealand Air Force confirmed it would be having as many of its aircraft types as possible at Wanaka.
Ed Taylor said this year’s event would also feature the return of a Polikarpov I-16 Russian fighter, two Spitfires and the newly imported Yak-3 “Steadfast” making its Wanaka debut.
The Boeing B-52, informally referred to as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fella), made its maiden flight in 1952.
It celebrated 60 years of continuous service with the USAF in 2015 and after undergoing upgrades around that time it is expected to still be serving into the 2050s. That would make it the longest-serving bomber aircraft in history.
Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have contributed its longevity, despite the introduction of more advanced aircraft such as the Mach 2+ B-1 and the stealth B-2 Spirit.
The B-52 was originally designed to drop nuclear weapons, but it has only dropped conventional weapons in the several conflicts it has been used in.
The aircraft will not be carrying any weapons for the New Zealand flyover.
Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is being held at Wanaka Airport on April 10th, 11th and 12th.